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Swamped by e-mail? Employees declare ‘E-mail Bankruptcy’

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Haven’t heard back from that e-mail request you sent last month? You may want to resend it.

Media reports in recent months show that many people who are inundated by e-mail are declaring “e-mail bankruptcy.” They’re deleting all old e-mails and starting fresh. Some are swearing off e-mail forever.

More than a third of people (34 percent) say they feel "stressed" by the sheer volume of e-mails they receive, according to a Glasgow University survey.

Rather than declaring e-mail bankruptcy, encourage employees to prevent e-mail overload in the first place with better e-mail management tools (and better spam filters). Here are four simple tricks that can help regain command over your out-of-control inbox (Outlook (2003) users should follow these steps religiously):

Step 1: Move task-oriented e-mail messages out of your inbox if they will take longer than five minutes to handle. Drag each message to your Task folder and change the subject name, so you’ll know its topic at a glance. Then delete it from your inbox, so all your “to-do’s” are grouped in one place. If you need to reply to the message later, click on it, go to “Action” and choose “Forward.”

Step 2: Drag e-mail to your Calendar to schedule time for yourself to work on it. Estimate how much time the task will take, then drop it into your schedule.

Step 3: Add a “reminder” when you use a follow-up flag, and the message text will turn red when it’s overdue. That makes it easy to see pressing tasks at a glance. Once you’ve completed the task, manually mark it “complete.”

Step 4: Develop a color scheme for flags using two or three different colors. You might designate blue for anything to do with your employees, green for vendors and red for a high-priority project. Even if your inbox is full, you’ll be able to spot the hottest items.

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